It’s a great time to head out to fish – here are Mike’s tips for the best spots

A caught fish
A solid Swan River flathead that couldn’t resist a Scorpion 52 lure

by Mike Roennfeldt 

This is probably my favourite time of year for fishing. There’s usually so much of what I enjoy these days on offer, particularly in the Swan River, but also along the beaches and in southern estuaries.

In the Swan and Canning, flathead, and to a lesser extent flounder, are out over the shallow banks in late spring and early summer. Wandering with a light spinning or fly outfit on a warm morning is a delight. I don’t keep the fish I catch in the local rivers but I’ve usually had plenty of fun catching and releasing them in less than a metre of water. Numbers of small fish has been the norm, with enough in the 45–60cm range to make things interesting. Having said all that, I’ve found it tougher going to find as many flatties in the river over the last five years or so as I did prior to that.

My favourite lure for the job is an RMG Scorpion 52, which can be retrieved at depths from 60cm to over a metre, depending on how high I hold the rod tip. The trick is to keep it near the bottom without fouling the hooks on weed and debris. If I’m fishing over a clean sand bottom, I don’t mind the lure digging its way along the sand; in this case I opt for a very slow and occasionally twitchy retrieve. The same technique also works on yellowfin whiting but I’ve had more success down in the Peel-Harvey system than I have in the Swan-Canning on this species.

Perhaps the most exciting prospect in the Swan at this time is the mercurial giant herring, a long, slender predatory fish that is no relation to the ubiquitous Australian herring that gets caught in huge numbers along our south and lower west coasts pretty much year-round. The giant herring is a superb fighter, given to long fast runs and spectacular above surface acrobatics.

They are a bit elusive though and often turn up when you least expect them. A fast worked Halco Twisty lure in sizes around 20–30g will catch them, but for really visual excitement you can’t beat the experience of hooking a big one on a surface popper. A Halco Roosta 80 is the perfect size for this job and it casts beautifully on 4–6kg spin gear. Giant herring are not a great eating proposition though and pretty much all of them are released to fight another day.

This is also the time for hordes of small tailor to take up residence in the lower reaches of the Swan and they are often relatively easy to find if you have a small boat or kayak. Early morning and late afternoon are best and trolling a small lure around between Claremont and Fremantle should see you find a few. When they are up and feeding on or near the surface it usually attracts the attention of sea birds, so it pays to keep your eyes open. Cast a 15–20g Twisty into the action zone and a hook-up is almost certain.